‘Funding global education is a priority for young people’

Laura Webb, a ONE Youth Ambassador from the UK, reflects on what she learned while campaigning for global education and attending the Global Education Summit.

I’ve been passionate about funding for global education since spending a year volunteering in Eswatini. I saw the way in which lack of schooling was hindering many children there. There have always been disparities in global education, but COVID-19has worsened the global education crisis. The pandemic pushed 1.6 billion children out of school across the world at the height of school closures.

While personally, I’ve had access to online learning and the resources required to continue my education, millions of students have not been as fortunate. Lack of electricity and sanitation facilities, increased caring responsibilities, and inadequate technology have all been barriers for children attempting to continue their education. If we are to allow children to catch up on missed learning and to not be held back in the long term, we must continue to fund education and prioritise ensuring a safe and accessible school environment.

As a Youth Ambassador, I was fortunate to attend the 2021 Global Education Summit in London, which was co-hosted by the UK and Kenya, to further my work championing for global education. The two-day summit involved ministers of education and heads of state from across the world pledging their financial support for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It was promising to see commitments to ensure the protection of domestic education budgets from a number of countries.

As ONE Youth Ambassadors, we have spent months raising awareness about the summit and lobbying for a fully funded GPE. COVID-19 lockdowns did not stop us and we began our campaigning online ahead of the summit with a virtual “Hour of Action,” which various MPs and parliamentarians attended. During that time, I spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on education, while my fellow activist from Kenya, Selina Nkoile, shared her experiences as a girl pursuing education in the country. We were even able to meet in person with Helen Grant MP, Wendy Morton MP, and Baroness Sugg at the parliament to discuss the pressing issues facing education ahead of the summit.

The Global Education Summit was a time of celebration and hope and it reminded me that we are united in tackling global challenges. The energy was incredible, and while the $5 billion we’d hoped for was not pledged, it was still a promising start. Moving forward, we must keep up the momentum in championing girls’ education, lobbying for further funding, and strengthening global solidarity.

I feel very privileged to have attended the summit as a youth delegate, and been able to see the results of our campaigning. Our attendance, alongside that of the GPE youth leaders, serves as a reminder to our ministers that funding global education is a priority for young people. As we continue to campaign on these issues, they must continue to listen to our demands and views.

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